Who will represent New Zealand at Battle of Beersheba centennial?

New Zealand's recently-elected prime minister Jacinda Ardern may make the trip, though this remains uncertain.

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October 22, 2017 01:00
2 minute read.
Who will represent New Zealand at Battle of Beersheba centennial?

Australian and US flags in Beersheba during a 2007 event marking 90 years since the battle.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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The results of the New Zealand elections last week place a question mark on the country’s representation at the Battle of Beersheba centennial celebrations, the main ceremonies of which will take place on October 31.

Although the National Party of outgoing Prime Minister Bill English scored the most votes, it did not attain the 61% required for him to form a government.

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Instead, Jacinda Ardern, who only three months previously had been elected to head the ailing Labor Party, breathed new life into it and woke up on Thursday morning to learn that she will be the new prime minister.

Her victory hinged on whether Ardern or English would receive the support of Winston Peters, the leader of the New Zealand First Party.

Had he given his support to the National Party, English would still be prime minister, but Peters decided to give his support to Ardern, whose meteoric rise to the top of the political totem pole is a unique political victory.

Up until the elections, it was taken for granted that English would represent his country in Israel at various ceremonies honoring the ANZACs (Australian New Zealand Army Corps).

In a post-election review of English’s political career, the closing sentence in the Otago Daily Times was: “His fate was delivered by the whim of Peters – not the voters.”


Now the question remains as to whether New Zealand will be represented by Governor- General Dame Patsy Reddy, English, Ardern or New Zealand’s outgoing nonresident ambassador to Israel Jonathan Curr, who is due to take up his new post as New Zealand high commissioner in Fiji early in the New Year.

When contacted by The Jerusalem Post on Friday, Curr said that the situation of representation was still uncertain, but that if it were clarified over the weekend, he would advise accordingly.

However, Saturday and Sunday are not working days in New Zealand, so the issue will need to be determined sometime this week.

Though not necessarily in favor of Israel’s policies, Ardern, who is affiliated with the Socialist International, is known to be pro-Israel and has visited the country.

In her new capacity, she joins a growing list of world leaders under the age of 40.

Events related to the presence of the ANZACs and their victories in the Holy Land begin on Monday and conclude on November 2.

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